philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Macy’s Rolls Out Virtual Reality Design Program

MacysVR-702x336Macy’s and Marxent have partnered on what the two companies said is the largest virtual reality rollout in retail history, with approximately 70 Macy’s VR installations in stores nationwide.

“Through the Macy’s VR furniture experience, we are giving our customers a new way to visualize a large selection of furniture products,” said Hal Lawton, president of Macy’s. “Customers design their living space and, using a VR headset, immerse themselves in the virtual rooms they create.”

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Do your surroundings affect your taste? Virtual reality answers

What we taste is intertwined not just with what we smell, but also with other sensory inputs. What we can see, in particular, may alter how we perceive the flavor of food — at least this is what a range of experiments using virtual reality settings have shown.

According to a new study conducted by researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, what we taste when we eat is significantly influenced by where we are when we have our meals.

The team's findings have recently appeared in the Journal of Food Science.

Through virtual reality headsets, each participant experienced, by turns, three different environments: a sensory booth, a park bench, and a cow barn.


One important application, for instance, is to improve the experience of eating for older people. As some people age, they may lose part of their sense of taste and thus find food less appealing, which may lead them to eat less, or less healthfully.

"Visually, virtual reality imparts qualities of the environment itself to the food being consumed — making this kind of testing cost-efficient," he adds.

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Project Aero – How Adobe Is Trying to Bring Augmented Reality Experiences Mainstream

adobemax-content-2018At its annual MAX event this week in Los Angeles, the company previewed a new tool that it hopes will help democratize the creation of AR across devices, enabling artists and designers to create their own experiences. The tool, called Project Aero, was initially revealed as a part of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.

However, with Project Aero, Adobe is trying to take its success with more familiar design tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator and use similar concepts to deliver AR at scale. Sensei, the company’s AI platform, is also integrated for identifying and creating lighting, emotion and spatial awareness.

“That’s kind of the flow for democratization,” Corazza said. “Someone breaks the ice, and then the goodness spreads to everybody. So we would like to get the goodness spreading as fast as we can.”

There are also tools such as proximity triggers that let objects become animated when a user gets close enough.

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Future of sports viewing? Steve Ballmer and L.A. Clippers debut new augmented reality NBA experience

courtvision-1260x709The new experience, Clippers CourtVision, uses computer vision, artificial intelligence and augmented reality to analyze the action on the court and translate it into on-screen annotations and animations, displayed on screen as the game unfolds. Viewers can see the probability that a player will make a shot, for example, or watch as the play is diagrammed in real time on the basketball court.

Ballmer and the company that developed the technology, Second Spectrum, believe it could be the first step toward a radically different viewing experience for professional sports in the future. Ballmer is an investor in Second Spectrum, and has championed the technology among his fellow NBA owners.

The technology was developed by Second Spectrum, a 5-year-old startup led by artificial intelligence experts that became the “official optical tracking provider” of the NBA in 2016. The company’s software allows computers to watch live sports and track player/ball movement at a granular level. It then applies machine learning and AI to overlay a live NBA stream with data and graphics.

In “Coach Mode,” fans can watch plays drawn out on the screen as they develop. In “Player Mode,” they can see real-time advanced statistics, such as the probability of player making a given shot. In “Mascot Mode,” the system generates fun animations when a big dunk or 3-pointer happens.

The new viewing experience is available starting today to FOX Sports Prime Ticket subscribers in the Los Angeles area via the FOX Sports app.

The Clippers are also beta testing a separate CourtVision app that lets fans switch between seven camera angles throughout the arena and pick different audio feeds, such as the broadcast commentary or in-arena sound. In addition, the new platform provides a way to watch condensed game recaps and highlights, and view computer-generated video stories.

Clippers CourtVision is part of a new trend to enhance the live sports viewing experience. This is not a totally new idea — an age-old example is the virtual yellow line indicating the first-down during a football broadcast.

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Creative Designers Speed Up the Design Cycle Through New Immersive Collaboration Experiences

bluescape-1Bluescape, a leading collaboration workspace solution, announced the availability of Bluescape Plugins for the Adobe Creative Cloud. Design teams can now collaborate in real time and streamline the review process for faster results. Creative professionals can seamlessly export their work, download images and collect real-time feedback in Bluescape workspaces directly from Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator CC and Adobe XD CC, all part of Adobe Creative Cloud.

UX|UI Designers can work, meet and connect using the Bluescape plugin for Adobe XD to drive the UX|UI design cycle faster, taking a project from concept, through design to final product, with real-time sharing of content and project updates.

For UX|UI designers, Bluescape offers real-time digital collaboration capabilities for Adobe XD.

  • In a Bluescape hosted meeting, designers can make real-time and streamlined changes in Adobe XD, open the plugin to easily and seamlessly export content into a Bluescape digital workspace for immediate sharing and review.
  • Within the Bluescape workspace, teams can instantly see the work being done in Adobe XD (a shared desktop window) while also viewing content, notes and drawings in a Bluescape workspace.
  • Designers can add real-time comments in Adobe XD and it instantly posts the comments in Bluescape for shared notifications and tracking.
  • Images and content located in a Bluescape workspace can be easily exported back into Adobe XD for additional design work.

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Jaunt VR Lays Off A “Significant” Number Of Employees As It Refocuses On Augmented Reality

screen-shot-2018-10-15-at-2-52-19-pmJaunt is devoting its resources instead to a new volumetric capture technology it showed off recently at its studios in Santa Monica, in which it captured a subject (say, a person) in full 360-degree perspective, and placed the object in another environment (in this case, a desktop).

Change seemed to be coming last month, when Jaunt announced that its vice president of business development, Mitzi Reaugh, would take over as CEO, succeeding media veteran George Kliavkoff, who accepted a job as president of entertainment and sports for MGM Resorts International.

Jaunt was behind a number of groundbreaking 360-degree productions, including one production, Collisions, that won an Emmy Award for outstanding new approach to documentary. It told the story of an indigenous Australian tribe.

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Sixense to Refund STEM Kickstarter Backers After More Than 4 Years of Delays

sixense-stem-1-1021x580In what might be the longest Kickstarter campaign conclusion to date, more than four years following estimated deliveries of the STEM VR controller, Sixense says they will fully refund all backers and pre-orders.

Well before the announcement of the Vive, with its 6DOF wand controllers, or the Rift’s 6DOF Touch controllers, Sixense planned to build its own 6DOF controller system for VR. The ‘STEM’ (based on magnetic tracking, like the Hyrda), would include two controllers and several additional trackers which could be clipped to the head and feet for full body tracking. The company rallied the young VR community around a Kickstarter campaign, successfully raising over $600,000 back in October of 2013, well exceeding the project’s $250,000 goal.

Speaking to Sixense CEO Amir Rubin this week, he told me that by the time that Valve/HTC and Oculus began shipping their own VR controllers—some two years after the initial STEM systems were estimated to be delivered—it became clear to Sixense that STEM would be fighting an uphill battle in the PC VR space, though the company held out hope that it would be a great match for mobile VR headsets, and refocused their efforts on the project for that use-case.

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Sony tries using blockchain tech for next-gen DRM

dims-7This new blockchain system is built on Sony's pre-existing DRM tools, which keep track of the distribution of copyrighted materials, but will have advantages that come with blockchain's inherent security.

The way blockchain works allows Sony to track its content from creation through sharing. This means that users of the blockchain DRM tool will be able to see --and verify-- who created a piece of work and when. Sony Global Education is the current focus of the DRM tool, but going forward, the company hints that the rest of its media --including entertainment like music, movies, and virtual reality content-- may be protected the same way.

With this news, Sony joins the likes of Walmart and Major League Baseball, who have also experimented with the blockchain game, and today's announcement could be the tip of the iceberg for the tech juggernaut.

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25-Years-of-WIRED_verticalIT’S NO LONGER enough to build lean companies quickly. The companies of the near future will need to be both fast and massive. And if it takes years to grow from a small startup to a major player in Silicon Valley, well. That’s just too slow. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman says Silicon Valley now demands that companies double their size after three months, then six months, then a year. He calls it “blitzscaling,” and today at the four-day WIRED25 festival in San Francisco, he explained the basic concepts to his good friend and intellectual sounding board Joi Ito, the iconoclastic director of MIT’s Media Lab.

“Blitzscaling is prioritizing speed over efficiency in the environment of uncertainty,” explained Hoffman. In his new book of the same name, Hoffman and coauthor Chris Yeh say that they are not merely offering advice for how startups can grow quickly, but describing a trend that is already happening—at internet companies, yes, but also at hardware manufacturers, and even in the fashion industry.

For those familiar with the backlash to Facebook’s former credo “Move fast and break things,” the idea of prioritizing speed when you build a new company may raise alarm bells. But Hoffman explains that the philosophy is meant as an antidote to some traditional business advice that no longer necessarily applies. Furthermore, it does not, actually, preclude the important work of thinking through good values before you start to grow or build your company.

Another rule: “Tolerate bad Management.” Another: “Ignore Your Customers.”

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Wingnut AR Pest Control shows augmented reality can be silly

wingnutThe narrator, talking through a speaker in the wall, welcomed me to my first day at Wingnut AR Pest Control. Before me was a table with virtual lab equipment and a box. I picked up a stick and was told to “take care of the spider problem.” The spiders were colorful things in a cartoon landscape. I had to move around a bit and squish them. Then I got a baseball bat, and moved around more aggressively. It reminded me of other games with the silly British accents from I Expect You to Die.

Since the glasses have only a wire leading to the puck in your pocket, you are free to move around. So I did. I went up to the spiders crawling around and squished them with the bat. They turned into spider jelly. I barely noticed that they were climbing on real world furniture, like chairs and tables. The narrator suggested I upgrade and so I traded the bat for a sawed-off shotgun. It wasn’t really that accurate, but it did the job.

The Wingnut demo highlighted one of the biggest problems of the glasses, the limited field of view. When you’re looking for spiders, you can’t use your peripheral vision because you don’t have any.

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